Java Supplants IT Security As Most Sought-After Tech Skill Set, Survey Finds

Java development has supplanted IT security as the most difficult skill set for hiring managers to locate, a Dice.com survey finds.

By Jon Brodkin
Fri, July 09, 2010

Network WorldJava development has supplanted IT security as the most difficult skill set for hiring managers to locate.

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Virtualization jobs, meanwhile, have become easier to fill, but hiring managers are increasingly having trouble finding talented software developers and C# programmers, according to a new Dice.com survey.

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The tech hiring site ranked the 10 most difficult skill sets and positions to fill in a survey of 600 human resources managers and recruiters.

One year ago, security was the most difficult skill set to find in the tech talent market, with Java and J2EE development placing third. Now Java is No. 1, and security is second on the list. Virtualization, the second hardest skill to find one year ago, has dropped out of the top 10 entirely, suggesting that IT pros familiar with virtualization technologies have become more plentiful.

The top 10 list included three Microsoft technologies -- .NET, SharePoint, and C#.

IT pros knowledgeable in any of the top 10 skill sets can expect a financial boost.

"Not only is demand strong for these professionals, but these positions as a group pay on average $10,000 more than the average national paycheck for tech professionals," Dice.com Senior Vice President Tom Silver writes in the company's monthly newsletter. "And confirming their coveted in-demand status, these IT pros are receiving double the pay raise this year, as compared to technology professionals as a whole."

The entire top 10 list of most difficult positions to fill is as follows:

1. Java/J2EE

2. Security

3. Software Developer

4. SAP

5. Database Administrator

6. .NET

7. Oracle (ORCL)

8. SharePoint

9. C#

10. Active Federal Government Security Clearance

The last item on the list refers to tech professionals with the necessary federal security clearance to work for government agencies and government contractors, such as Lockheed Martin (LMT).

Eight of the 10 skills on the list are the same as from last year. C# and software developers were the new entries, replacing virtualization and project management.

The overall tech hiring market looks a lot healthier than it did at this time last year. As of July 1, 2009, Dice.com reported having 48,993 available tech jobs, including 28,713 full-time positions. As of July 1, 2010, the numbers had jumped to 66,672 available tech jobs, including 39,389 full-time positions.

In more than 14,000 of the job openings, Java/J2EE was one of the requested skills. There were also 14,000 Oracle-related openings and more than 10,000 software development jobs. The other jobs appearing in the top 10 list range between 2,500 and 7,800 open jobs.

In general, demand for the jobs on the hard-to-fill list is at least 50% higher than last year, and technologists with these skill sets are commanding lucrative salaries. For example, the average paycheck for C# programmers is $89,400, and for database administrators the wage is $91,000.

When asked if any of the hard-to-fill jobs are hard to fill because nobody wants them, a Dice.com spokesperson said: "It's hard to judge, but we do know that HR managers and recruiters are starting to pay higher salaries for new hires. That is a result of too many openings and not enough skilled professionals for the stronger areas."

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